New Trouble in Chiapas
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 20—Gunfire broke out in a village in Chiapas, Mexico, July 17-18 when a group of evangelical Protestants attempted to gain new recruits in the predominately Catholic region, the AP reported.
Three people were wounded in the conflict, which began after three evangelicals began preaching in the Indian village of Icalumtic, the AP said.
“Residents of the village … practice a blend of ancient Mayan religion and Catholicism,” according to the wire service.
Several opened fire on the evangelical preachers and three were wounded in return fire, reports said. The government dispatched troops to the region, which has been the scene of violent religious conflict for about 25 years.
While the AP reported that dozens of evangelicals have been killed and about 25,000 others have been forced to leave their homes in recent years, a dispute earlier this year in another Chiapas community resulted in an accommodation in which Protestants were permitted to build their own place of worship.
American Missionaries on Trial in Zimbabwe
USA TODAY, July 20—Three American men who say they are Protestant missionaries pleaded innocent July 19 to weapons charges in Zimbabwe, USA Today reported.
John Dixon, Joseph Pettijohn and Gary Blanchard face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if they are convicted of charges of possessing “arms of war” and trying to smuggle firearms aboard an airplane, USA Today reported.
The men, who say they are missionaries for a small Pentecostal church group based in Indianapolis, were arrested March 7 at the international airport in Zimbabwe. Police allegedly found in their luggage and truck: 21 rifles, 22 handguns, 31 bayonets, nine silencers, 70 knives and three devices used to administer electric shocks
Jonathan Wallace, head of Harvestfield Ministries, the Pentecostal group that employs the men, said the weapons were used for protection and hunting, not to supply arms to rebels, as Zimbabwean officials say they suspect.
Irish Bishops Meet St. Egidio Community
THE IRISH TIMES, July 20—On their recent ad limina visit to Rome, Ireland's Catholic bishops visited the small but increasingly influential St. Egidio community — a group that is “trying to change the world.”
In a feature story for the Times, Garry O'Sullivan, a member of the lay community, used the occasion of the bishops' visit to explain the group's purpose and some of its recent accomplishments.
Founded at Rome's Church of St. Egidio in the late 1960s, the lay community is extended throughout Europe and works in mission territories in Africa and Latin America where members do extensive work with the poor and homeless.
The community, however, is best known for its peacekeeping and mediation efforts, and has been credited with brokering a 1992 accord ending a 16-year civil war.
Given the recent difficulties in implementing Northern Ireland's Good Friday agreement, the bishops may have used the occasion to invite the leaders of St. Egidio to join the negotiations.